Sony Ericsson debuts the first Android phone

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Sony Ericsson has introduced its first mobile phone based on Google’s Android operating system.

The Xperia X10 has an 8.1 megapixel camera, music player, high-speed web access, touchscreen, GPS and can use apps from the Android Market or SonyEricsson’s Play Now Arena. Known as Rachel while in development, the X10 is expected to go on sale early in the first quarter of 2010. According to the company, it will be the first in a family of Android-based phones to be released later in the year. .

Sony Ericsson’s previous smartphone, the X1 running on Microsoft’s Windows Mobile operating system, had disappointed many users, especially when it came to its control panel. The X10’s control panel has been revised to help owners easily access social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, email and other messaging applications.

The phone can work with second and third generation mobile networks, including HSPA, as well as Wi-Fi. The X10 runs Android version 1.6 and has a 1Ghz Snapdragon processor from US chip firm Qualcomm. The facial recognition software built into the phone will be able to analyze and recognize up to five faces in a single image, immediately connecting that photo with the user’s ‘social phone book’ and the calls and messages sent to that person.

Sony Ericsson’s call to produce Android-based phones is widely seen as an effort by the phone maker to win back some market share. For the past three quarters it has reported losses due to strong competition from its rivals, particularly Apple’s iPhone. Many mobile phone manufacturers are increasingly turning to Google’s Android platform in an effort to overcome the challenge posed by Apple’s iPhone. Unlike the iPhone, most Android devices can run apps in the background, allowing people to receive push notifications when they receive a new message or tweet from Facebook, and feature “social” phonebooks, which pull contacts from a wide selection of offline sites and online sources and thread conversations regardless of the communication strategy used to contact a friend.

Sony Ericsson has not said when the Xperia X10 will go on sale or in which countries or networks. No price has been set for the phone either.

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